Category Archives: Sparks~Inspirations

Street Art – Behind the Scenes

Exit Through the Gift ShopMy son, who is very interested in street artists, recommended I watch the movie, “Exit through the Gift Shop”.  The movie was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary and  I watched the movie this past rainy day weekend thinking it was going to simply be a documentary on this counter-culture underground movement called Street Art.  It was so much more … at the end of the movie you should ask yourself two questions, “What is Art?” and “Who decides it’s Art?”  There has been a lot of speculation as to whether or not the movie is “real” or not … I’m not sure it really matters, in the end.

Without telling you too much about the movie and giving away the good stuff, the movie was made by the most famously anonymous street artist, Banksy.

An amateur filmmaker, Frenchman Thierry Guetta aka “Mr. Brainwash”, shoots reels and reels of film on the pretext that he is making his own documentary about street artists and their nocturnal pasting and spraying.  There are many interesting focuses on different artists, most notably Banksy and Shepard Fairey (founder of Obey and the artist made famous by his iconic Obama image), who allow the filmmaker to go along on their adventures.

The drama intensifies and in the end … well, I think it has a wonderful twist.  I thought it was interesting how bitter the street artists were in the end.  Did “Mr. Brainwash” sell out?  Is he smarter than everyone else?  Is he a fraud?  Is “Mr. Brainwash” nothing more than a character made up by Banksy himself?

All in all, it is a very entertaining and interesting movie!  Let me know your thoughts!

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Filed under Artist or Focus, Medium, Paint, Sparks~Inspirations, Street Art, ~Blog~

Pulp FASHION – Paper Art

Men's costumesLast week I visited the fantastic exhibit at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco … Pulp Fashion by Belgian artist, Isabelle de Borchgrave.  The fashion was life-size period costumes made from nothing other than paper and paint (of course it was either glued or stitched together).  Not only did I thoroughly enjoy her beautiful, realistic creations, but I really apprecThe artist at workiated the thorough explanation of her process.  The video was well done and you could get “up close and personal” with her art.

The costume time periods ranged from the renaissance period to modern-day Coco Chanel.

De Borchgrave uses stencils and other techniques to re-create the uniformity of fabric and I especially liked the use of metallic paint.  That really made it look like silk.  The foundation paper is quite thick and looks to be very heavy and resilient.  The lens paper lace was fantastic and all the tucks and pleats … mind-boggling!  White dressesBeads and hair pieces, and even the hair itself, if necessary, was made from paper.  Every piece was a little different and had a different flair and inspiration.  All the pieces were exhibited on simple paper mannequins.

In theNeapolitan woman last exhibit room was a presentation of costumes De Borchgrave created using actual paintings in the Legion of Honor for inspiration.  They were incredible!

At the end of the day … we decided that it was impossible to decide on a favorite.  We even tried to break it down by room,  Everything was beautiful and different.

Not only did I have a great day with my good friend, Linda, but was really inspired by the creative use of paper and stencils and how it could be translated into the “real thing”.  I have pulled out the mylar, the textile paints, and the tees to create my own stencils and give it a go.  My creative juices are flowing!!

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Filed under Medium, Paint, Paper, Sparks~Inspirations, ~Blog~

Felting Wool, Making Fingerless Gloves, and “Upcycling” Textiles

I began my creative exploration as a child by learning to sew with my Grandmother.  I have always been very inspired not only by the texture of fabrics, but the unique personality given to the fabrics with dye and the printing.  My personal stash of fabrics can rival anyone (just ask my husband!) and I find it hard to walk out of a fabric store without adding just a little something more … in case that perfect project comes up where I might need it desperately.  LOL  I save every little scrap of things I love, cut buttons off old clothes for the next project, and buy at thrift stores, flea markets, and antique sales.  It is amazing what can be created from an old tablecloth or a well-loved pair of jeans!

My newest creative urge has been to “felt” wool sweaters and make fingerless gloves, mittons and accessories from the wool.  I have scoured thrift shops for inexpensive, nearly wool sweaters made from animal fur.  I have found cashmere sweaters with a couple of holes for 5$!  The sweaters made from about 80% or higher in wool that contains animal fur works best.  Blankets, suit coats etc. work well too and you get even more “felt”!  Have you ever accidentally put a sweater in the wash only to have it come out looking like a children’s sweater and have it be incredibly dense?  This is exactly what you are shooting for with felting because when the wool is cut it won’t ravel and you can make pretty much anything from it!

The felting process is simply to wash the wool item in hot water, rinse in cool and then dry it in a hot dryer.  Some sweaters need a little encouragement and might need to go through the process 2-3 times.  If you are doing a lot of sweaters, it is recommended to put your items in a mesh bag so all the fibers don’t muck up your machines … In the “olden days” they would call this boiling wool, only they actually DID boil it in a pot of water over a hot fire!  They used the “boiled” remnants for extra warm blankets and coats.

Now that your wool is ready … the game begins!  How do you want to cut your items out?  I like to cut at the seams and spread out my sweater so I can see just how much wool I have, look and mark any holes I need to work around, and get a good picture of the design I might be incorporating into my hand-made, one-of-a-kind product.  I have been known to use a men’s sweater collar for a decorative cuff and I like to use the bottom of a sweater or the sleeve cuff for the cuffs of gloves etc.  Pin your pattern and cut it out!

Since your wool doesn’t fray you don’t need finished seams (which is why I do this in the first place) you can easily construct just about anything from your wool … purses, hats, mittons, decorative items, flower pins, scarves, headbands – pretty much anything goes!  Decorate your item with embroidery, buttons, ribbon, complimentary wool or whatever is appealing to you.

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Filed under Recycling/Upcycling, Sparks~Inspirations, Textiles, ~Blog~

The Monarchs are Migrating! A color page for inspiration …

The Monarchs are coming!

The Monarchs are coming!

There is nothing better than going to Natural Bridges in Santa Cruz or Ardenwood Historic Farm in Fremont and seeing all the beautiful butterflies in the trees.  It is a wondrous site and the time will quickly be here to see them.  The migration is a little later this year because we have had such a wet winter, but they are being spotted in Southern California making their way to us from Mexico.   Follow their migration at the Journey North web site:

I don’t know about you, but I am really ready for Spring this year and I thought it would be fun to celebrate the advent of Spring and the migration with a color page.

I hope you find inspiration and a breath of Spring with this page, as well.  The page has a monarch butterfly landing on tulips and a cocoon in the corner.  The file is in pdf format for easy printing.

I would love to see your final results!


monarch tulip color page

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Filed under Freebie Fun, Sparks~Inspirations, ~Blog~

The New Creative Artist – A Book to Inspire

New Creative ArtistI recently discovered the book, The New Creative Artist, by Nita Leland.  She calls it a “Guide to Developing Your Creative Spirit”.  I have read other book by Nita Leland in the past and have found her to be very insightful and generally spurns me on creatively, but she has outdone herself with THIS book!  It is chock full of inspiration.

There is an activity to stretch your creativity for nearly every day and the book explores many mediums and new ways to use each one.  Many of the exercises use everyday things you may have around the house and is easily adaptable to helping change up your lesson plans or personally trying a new technique.

In the book, Nita Leland discusses forms of Art and Craft (printmaking, quilting, scrapbooking, etc.), as well as Realism -vs- Abstraction.  There is also a complete chapter on building your confidence as an artist.  The ideas in this book help you stretch your own ideas for lesson plans, as well as your personal art experience and I think it is appropriate for artists of all ages!

The book is really well laid out and easy to read.  A beautiful book!  Try it!  If you can’t find it at the library, Amazon or Barnes and Noble sell used books for around $14.  It is a hard-back, ringed book and easy to flip through.  I like the rings because it opens fully and stays open while you are following the instructions!

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Filed under Right Brain Ramblings, Sparks~Inspirations, ~Blog~